Like the restoration of the Craven’s 105 Multiple Units, I want to pay tribute to the 200 plus volunteers who never gave up in restoring and bringing 80097 back to its former glory for future generations to admire and enjoy such wonderful engineering marvels.
The story of 80097 is both tragic and ultimately heroic, a microcosm if you will, and a key part of the railways industrial history retold with the popularity of heritage railways successfully operating and preserving such locomotives right across the UK.
The locomotive was originally allocated to the Eastern Region at Plaistow in December 1954 and subsequently Tilbury and Stratford. In 1962 it migrated to the Western Region and following regional boundary changes became an L.M.R. Locomotive surviving until July 1965. In company with several others of its class, it made its way to the “graveyard” at Barry in Wales.
Originally, 80097 was built at a cost of £17,600. During its lifetime the loco had been based at the following sheds: December 1954 to 33A Plaistow, October 1959 to 33B Tilsbury, June 1962 to 30A Stratford, July 1962 to 87D Swansea (East Dock), July 1963 to 89D Oswestry (Shed became 6E September 1963), July 1964 to 6F Machynlleth. In July 1965 it was withdrawn and stored at 6F Machynlleth and in January 1966, 80097 arrived at Woodhams Scrap yard in Barry South Wales.
Following the end of steam, the scrap yard at Barry was the final resting place for hundreds steam locomotives, made redundant following the infamous Beeching doctrine to end steam and usher in a new era of diesel powered locomotives. Whilst 80097 only ran for 11 years the locomotive languished for 21 years at Barry simply rusting away and in the salt laden atmosphere all moving parts had seized up.
However a bunch of enthusiasts, who named themselves the ELR Standard 4 Group, had other ideas and were looking for a Standard 4 locomotive to restore which they felt was best suited to running on the East Lancashire railway. A group of volunteers travelled down to Barry to look out for a suitable locomotive and finally settled on 80097 to begin its long journey back to Bury and to full restoration.
Nobody knew back in the mid eighties just what a journey it would take in rebuilding an ex-Barry hulk.
For the first few years restoration works were carried out under the cold & drafty road bridge at Bury Bolton Street.
Over the next 33 years and over 200 volunteers and through group’s perseverance, passion and patience with financial support from the East Lancs Railway has finally paid off. During those long frustrating years a great many of those devoted volunteers, who all had jobs, deveoted long hours after work but were not able to see their ultimate dream realised on the re-launch day 2 March 2019. They will not be forgotten.
Ten of the class were withdrawn at the same time; today no less than eight are secured in preservation.
Today, we give thanks to those hundreds of unwavering and passionate volunteers going the extra mile and beyond to ensure 80097 proudly returns to full working order. 80097 stars in the ELR’s Steam Gala 8-10 March 2019.
80097 back on track where she belongs!
Come along over the weekend to the ELR’s Steam Gala to ride with 80097 (8-10 March) – http://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk/uploads/webpage-documents/1b8d6279-69a7-4b85-ae5c-50746fe05b16.pdf